Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How we Cover ALL Subjects While Unschooling

      I'm pretty sure my last post was written Friday afternoon after we got home from Roger Williams zoo.... our lives have been super busy and crazy lately and I haven't had a chance to write.  Well, OK, I guess that's not entirely true.  Those few times I would have had a chance to write I really didn't have the motivation.  I want to sit and blog but sometimes it feels like a job (and since I don't get paid, it's not always a good job!).  However, just because I'm not writing doesn't mean the boys aren't learning anything.  We've been doing a lot of unschooling lately and so far we've managed to cover a lot of different topics!
    Friday night Alec had karate and he did wonderfully!  He is picking up so many skills so fast.  The other boys and I got to participate.  They set up the smaller room in the back as a darkened obstacle course complete with spooky Halloween music and they asked for parent (or sibling in this case) volunteers to lightly hit the students with foam bats.  They were to practice blocking skills while running through the course and we were sort of hidden so they didn't know when they'd need to block.  It was lots of fun (physical education)
      After Karate the boys spent a fun guys night in with dad eating pizza and watching movies while mom had a fun girls night out!  I love my boys dearly and I love homeschooling but it's so nice to get out on my own once in a while too. 
     Saturday morning found us all lumberjacking.  My husband takes care of his great aunt's yard and a tree had fallen near the edge of her property.  While my husband sawed up the trunk for fire wood the boys and I moved brush and stacked smaller logs onto the trailer to bring home.  We also visited with his great aunt, played war, worked on puzzles and learned a bit about caring for dogs.  I was surprised to hear Evan telling Alec "look a morning dove!"  There are lots of bird feeders around the yard and the boys love to watch the birds but I'm not sure how or when Evan started learning their names.  I guess he's been checking out Alec's bird clock on occasion or something but he was right and we sat and watched the morning dove. (science, work ethic, math & logic skills).
      Once we were done cleaning up the tree we headed to a birthday party at the other end of the state.  There were tons of kids at this party and my boys jumped right in riding bikes, playing football, soccer, learning the fundamentals of playing baseball, using the swings, rock climbing wall and well just about anything they could get their hands on.  It was a wonderful fun- filled afternoon. (physical education and socialization).


     Sunday I took the boys with me to a jewelry party.  The party was hosted by the mom of one of Ian's friends so the boys had fun playing in the dirt with the trucks.  Alec, who is not my outdoor lover, came inside and spent the afternoon playing with their new kitten.  He was so darn adorable with her! (socialization and Science).
     Yesterday by the time we were all up dressed and ready to go it was time for trampoline (physical education).  I was feeling pretty bad we hadn't gotten any school work done but I realized that with our hectic schedules for the next few weeks that we'd mostly be relying on strict unschooling.  I don't have much planned for school since I don't seem to have time to sit and plan lately.   After trampoline we headed home and the boys kept looking to me to do something so I quickly pulled out a book and we spent the afternoon reading and writing poetry.  While the older boys were writing Evan and I read a few stories together.  He struggled a bit with one of the Bob Books that we haven't read in a while but I was glad to see he was able to read through it on his own with little help.  He swears he has no idea how to read and I believe him but other times he seems to be able to read a little bit.  At the zoo he knew which garbage to use even though one said plastic and one said trash-- "this is the one for trash mom-- see it starts with t" or the other morning when he was cooking breakfast he told me the toaster setting was on bake not toast (we also have a broil setting so I'm not sure how he knew it was bake and not broil but he was right).  I'm taking all these as positive signs and he has told me it's really hard to play his Harry Potter game for his DS since he needs to be able to read (I'm thinking--- ooooh! great motivation! and since have become a very mean mommy not reading it to him). 
Ian's poem about Halloween

     After reading and writing were done the boys wanted to carve pumpkins.  I hate carving pumpkins but had promised them that they could carve them this year and I have to say I didn't do all that much to help them.  Other than cutting the hole in the top of the pumpkin Ian did everything for his-- cleaned it out, drew the face, and cut it completely without any help!  Alec (who gags over everything) needed me to clean out his pumpkin for him and, once he drew the three cat faces, talked about what he could and could not cut out.  I did help him carve the whiskers but he did most of the rest of it himself.  Ian helped Evan clean out his pumpkin and then Evan drew his own face.  The two of us took turns cutting the shapes out-- Evan did both eyes on his own and the lower part of the mouth but asked me to cut around all the upper teeth.  All in all I'm pretty impressed with how they came out and how much they were able to do.  (science and art)

Evan carves





    We woke this morning and headed to Southwick's zoo for their zoo boo days.  The boys get to trick or treat throughout the zoo.  We went last year and loved it!  It's great-- all kids under 12 get in free if they have a costume on and can trick or treat around at a few select spots in the zoo.  They have special creepy crawly presentations and we learned all about scorpions, snakes, millipedes, and something called a vinegaroon (sort of like a scorpion without a tail-- it smells like vinegar and that's how hit got it's name).  We learned that all arachnids have 8 legs and 8 eyes, that all scorpions have venom but not all are deadly or poisonous to humans.  We also leaned that bigger scorpions have less venom than smaller scorpions.  It was a great presentation and we were excited to once again be learning something new.  (science)
    Evan spent much of the day studying maps and telling me where the animals were from.  We read all sorts of new conservation signs and worked on reading comprehension when Ian didn't understand what the signs were saying.  We heard the Siamangs making all sorts of hooting noises and it was pretty neat to see so many of the animals being more active than usual.  We watched the Leopard playing with his ball, jumping and leaping in the air, we watched the gibbons swinging all around their cages, we saw 8 prairie dogs digging holes and tunnels, the rhinos were fed pumpkins today that they wanted to play with... it was great! (Geography and reading comprehension)


the baby porcupette was eating

We watched the gibbon swing around and around his cage

Watching the python climb the glass up to the height of Alec's head!

Even the hyena was out today! 

the boys were given free sticks in the bird aviary & fed parakeets

The parakeets were pretty hungry today!

we caught lots!

we pet them

we watched them fly around

we had so much fun looking at all the colors and patterns


the cheetahs were out

black and white ruffled lemurs-- they're so cute!



checking out a scorpion

the Vinegaroon

learning about millipedes and centipedes  


      On the way to and from the zoo the boys worked on their extreme dot to dot books.  Alec and Ian peck away at each page bit by bit and it's so neat to see these dots come to life, sort of.  They compared who's book had the most dots, which pictures had the least amount of dots, which ones had the most.  They read numbers like 1,055 and 394 to each other and I was glad to see them getting even more math practice than I had anticipated.  Evan's dot to dot book is from 1- 100 and he did the whole page all on his own! (math)
   I think just about the only topic we didn't cover this week was history but that's OK.  We have lots of other days in the school year and some days are more science oriented while others focus on history.  Our field trips are usually a jumping off point for more learning and we could have easily talked about how some of these animals were used by various tribes and people through various times in history and geographical locations.  I find more and more when I watch and observe I can see how little pieces in all the subjects each day really adds up over time.  Unschooling can work; even if you only use it now and then to fall back on like we do.  

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